Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat Temple


Angkor Wat

The most well known of all the temples in Angkor Archaeological Park and Cambodia.

Set among forests and complimented by the numerous neighbouring temples, Angkor Wat is a marvel of architecture.

If you only visit one temple, then this is the one to visit.

We had an issue when we visited Angkor Wat. Read all about Angkor Wat and a Personal emergency here.


History


Built in the early 12th century by the Khmer King Suryavarman II taking only around 30-40 years. Originally dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu and, unusually, orientated to the west, possibly meaning it was built as a funerial temple.

There is some debate on the symbolism of the design of the temple. Possible explanations including being based on the lotus flower, yoni and linga symbols, Holy Mount Meru or as a reflection of the universe.

It was abandoned when King Jayavarman VII built Angkor Thom in the late 12th century.



Architectural Design


Like many temples Angkor Wat is surrounded by a wide 200 metre moat. Although there was a security aspect to the moat its main function was to help stabilise the temple foundations.

The temple was built in an area prone to flooding in the wet season and long droughts through the dry season. This would mean that the pressures and support for foundations would change fundamentally during the year. This would undermine the foundations and lead to rapid collapse of the buildings.

The moat, together with nearby Barays (reservoirs), were used to stabilise the groundwater levels under the temple throughout the year.

The main entrance to the temple is by the wide Western Causeway which crosses the moat and leads to the outer temple wall. The causeway begins with a number of steps that leads to the raised sandstone terrace with giant Stone Lions guarding the entrance. The 4.5 metre (15 feet) tall wall stretches for 1,025 metres (3,362 feet) by 800 metres (2,624 feet).

Once through the wall there is a second causeway, two pools and two libraries and then the central temple itself. The temple is on three levels, each one incorporating a square surrounded by galleries. The third tier stands 213 metres (699 feet) high and the steep climb to the top rewards with stunning views.

One of the most impressive aspects of Angkor Wat building are the bas reliefs along many walls commonly depicting whole stories as you walk the length of the wall. The most famous are; The Battle of Kurukshetra (many parts are polished black due to being touched so often over the centuries), Churning of the Ocean of Milk Depicting Gods and Demons churning the sea in seaarch of immortality) and The Army of Suryavarman II celebrating the greatness of the King who built the temple.

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